In my life I’ve been fortunate enough to have plenty of leadership opportunities and I have taken advantage of them to further my personal development. Today I will be analyzing a few of them to give some better insight as to how they developed the person I am today, what knowledge and lessons I took away from them, and how you can also get involved and become a leader in your own field of interest.
Let’s start way back to boy scouts, for those of you who don’t know what the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), “The BSA’s goal is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations. For younger members, the Scout method is part of the program to instill typical Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills, through a variety of activities such as camping, aquatics, and hiking.” – Wikipedia
I was involved in Boy Scouts all my life essentially, from a Cub Scout when I was in first grade all the way to Eagle Scout at 17 years old. Through my time there as it mentions above I learned a lot and I put myself in positions to further develop my character. These include, Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scout Master. To break down some of these further clarify the situation, Patrol leader essentially led a patrol (for us that was between 8-15 scouts) and you were responsible for your patrol on camping trips, each patrol was responsible for cooking their own food, cleaning up their own mess etc. Senior Patrol leader oversaw all the patrols that comprised the troop (we normally had between 3 and 4 patrols), your job was to ensure all the patrols were functioning accordingly. Junior Assistant Scout Master was a position that brought me another tier above Senior Patrol Leader and I assisted the SPL in making decisions and relaying information to the Scout Master.
Through all these positions you had to effectively communicate to your peers who were both younger and older than you were, as well as adult leaders in the troop. You were essentially responsible that the young men you oversaw were doing their part and contributing to the task at hand. As you advanced through the ranks you started leading by example and teaching the younger guys what they needed to do and how to do it. Although everyone in the world at the time thought Boy Scouts were gay and it was a stupid program, I had incredible opportunities to travel and do cool things (white water rafting, snow skiing, Pike’s Peak, hiking, climbing, canoeing, archery, rifle and shotgun shooting etc.) that other kids didn’t have the opportunity to do. That in addition to vast amount of survival skills and knowledge I accumulated I also was able to develop leadership skills that others forsake. This also lead into my other leadership roles and opportunities later in life that we will now go over.
Next, was High School Wrestling captain. This wasn’t as involved as the Boy Scout leadership positions that I had previously, but it did mean something. Essentially you ran warm ups for practice assisted the coach in demonstrations and provided advice and inspiration to those around you. This position required very little outside work that wasn’t already required to be a starting varsity wrestler, not much to say about this. In other sports Team Captain may have some more meaning however wrestling is both individual and team oriented but more so individual.
Next up would be involving my Fraternity in my currently ongoing college career. As I write I still have 2 more semesters to go with 12 and 9 credit hours respectively. I have been a part of Sigma Chi Fraternity since my freshman year in the Fall of 2014 and am still heavily involved in the fraternity even as I approach my 5th and final year. I have held a ton of positions for the fraternity including, Recruitment chair, Greek week chair, Social chair, Vice President, houseman, Philanthropy Chair, and brotherhood chair. While there is leadership and character development in all of those positions I want to focus on Vice President as the primary one.
As Vice President I essentially oversaw internal operations of the chapter, ran the executive committee and its meetings, ran the post initiation training of newly initiated brothers, oversaw all the committee positions. It was quite an interesting year in my position, possibly the hardest terms as Vice President we’ve ever had to deal with. We had several executive members get co-op (extended internships) after they were already elected so we had to elect new exec members, we had new national policies implemented that nobody saw coming, had to drop several people from their committee positions due to grades, overcommitted and unable to do fulfill their position. It was a mess and I was already under a strenuous workload and amount of stress. We did survive, and I think we turned out better than we started but It wasn’t easy and really challenged me.
Couple things I learned, things can and do go wrong (shit happens, get ready to roll with the punches and adapt). People suck, I don’t say this to be mean, but people tend to be forgetful and take the easy way out when they can which puts more strain on you. Another important lesson I use was taught to me when I was a pledge and it was an adaptation of this parable.
“Os Hillman tells the story of a rider on horseback, who many years ago, came across a squad of soldiers who were trying to move a heavy piece of timber.
A corporal stood by, giving lordly orders to “Heave.”
But the piece of timber was too heavy for the squad.
“Why don’t you help them?” asked the quiet man on the horse, addressing the important corporal.
“Me? Why, I’m a corporal sir!”
Dismounting, the stranger carefully took his place with the soldiers.
“Now, all together boys – heave!” he said. And the big piece of timber slid into place.
The stranger mounted his horse and addressed the corporal. “The next time you have a piece of timber for your men to handle, corporal, send for your commander-in-chief.”
The horseman was George Washington, the first American President.
I love this story as it reminds me that leadership isn’t barking orders at your staff, it’s helping them with the heavy lifting.
It simply states that the leader must also contribute and do the heavy lifting just like the men he leads. The same applies to the fraternity and leading by example. While we are not a large chapter we stand around 50 members give or take, so within that group there are young men of different temperaments, talents and convictions that must be handled in separate ways when issues arise. I learned how to cater to different people’s temperaments from the shy quiet freshman who was underperforming to the drunk disorderly super senior enjoying his last hurrah.
The last leadership position I currently partake in is Missouri S&T Miner Rugby captain. Now I have been in this position for a solid year perhaps longer. I think I was unofficially the captain for a little bit but for the last 2 semesters that was made clear. This is an interesting one because there are many positions and situations I am faced with. To my team on the field, I make the play calls and control the game. To the Sir (the referee) I communicate all issues that my teammates bring to me and express my concerns with the Sir. I sometimes take a back seat on practices and let the president make the calls on that but I voice my opinion on that as well. After the game, I am no different than anyone else on the team, there to have a good time and enjoy the spoils of victory.
Again, there is a lot to be learned from this position, I address my teammates on the field on game day much differently than at practice. I also address the sir differently than my teammates. I juggle between who needs to get more playing time and who needs to get on the field to deliver the best performance.
Overall, I have been a leader in many aspects of my life, all different, all unique in their on way. I think that it is important to have that diversity because it gives you more tools in your toolbox to handle the different situations you may face out in the real world. It also presents you with various challenges that will build your character and your problem-solving abilities as you struggle between the pros and cons of situations. I would highly suggest getting involved in some organization, club, sport etc. that you enjoy and look for a meaningful way to contribute whether that would be a leadership position such as the ones I’ve mentioned above, or a minor position. Getting involved, developing communication, problem solving, and leadership skills will make a lasting impact and help prepare you for your future endeavors in your career or activities later in life. Take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you now rather than wasting away your time, because in 10 years the lessons you learned from getting involved will get you further than that tv episode you watched.
As always, feel free to leave a comment below I would love to hear from your guys!